Some thoughts on yesterday’s announcements:
The laptop refresh was a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting anything until Intel’s Nehalem based laptop CPU’s and chipsets hit the market late summer or early fall. The basics of the machines haven’t improved that much, and won’t until that happens. I’m wary of the unibody built in battery – I had to have my MacBook Pro batteries replaced recently, and the built-in battery would make that a lot harder. As a photographer, I like the wider color gamut of the LCD, but I don’t like the glossy finish. I also find there replacement of the ExpressCard slot with an SD card slot odd. It would have been more “Pro” to at least use a Compact Flash slot.
In any case, I’m not in the market for a new laptop, so the minor changes and the nice price reduction don’t mean much to me at the moment.
Snow Leopard, on the other hand, is of great interest to me now that my primary box is a Mac Pro. I’m eager to have OS X taking better advantage of the all the hardware threads in the box. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion of this in the keynote, but I also understand that having more than 2 cores is still a bit out there. I’m also disappointed that there was no mention of ZFS in either the workstation or server editions of Snow Leopard.
I guess that Snow Leopard is not as ready as many people (including me) thought. It won’t be shipping until September. Apple has taken a very reasonable approach to pricing the upgrade. The biggest issue for me is that I’ve been having problems with 10.5.7. I uninstalled it from the MacPro, and my work laptop wigged out on me last week during JavaOne, and I am very suspicious that the problems are 10.5.7 related. Jeffrey Zeldman is chronicling his own set of problems with the update. It’s going to be a long time between now and September if Apple doesn’t sort this out.
The iPhone 3.0 stuff was pretty much a rehash of what was previewed back in March. The only surprise was the “Find My iPhone” feature, which really ought to be a standard feature. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy MobileMe just to get this ability. Everybody is going to get an upgrade to this version of the software so there’s nothing but happiness all around.
What’s not so happy is that some of the features will be unavailable because AT&T isn’t ready to support them: MMS and Tethering. I’m not really sure that I would actually use the MMS. I do most of my picture sharing via Twitter or Facebook. I am pretty sure that I would use tethering, either when riding the ferry or when traveling for work. However, if AT&T adds another $30 a month for the privilege, I probably won’t do it. I can get a Boingo account form $10 a month. True that it won’t work everywhere, but it will work on the ferry and in major airports. Does AT&T really think that we don’t know how to comparison shop?
The iPhone 3GS is a nice upgrade. I’d be happy with the speed, but I’m going to get a speed increase (supposedly) from the iPhone 3.0 software. Faster 3G data would also be nice. The battery life improvements don’t cover the 3G radio usage, which is how I pound my iPhone.
There are two features which really stand out to me: the compass and the camera.
I travel a lot, and I get mixed up a lot. Having the compass to help decipher directions would really be a help to me. I can think of several occasions in the last 6 months, where I could have saved some aggravation if I knew what direction I was pointed in.
The improvements to the camera look really good. Chase Jarvis is calling it the photographer’s iPhone, which is pretty much a no brainer. There was no mention of speeding up the amount of time it takes to get the camera to come on, which is one of my biggest gripes with it. Is it really a decisive moment camera? No way. But it looks like it is a much better camera than what we have now. I could probably justify $199 to upgrade my 16G iPhone 3G – it’d be a lot cheaper than a camera.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to get to do that. At least not until December 2009, due to the subsidized pricing of the iPhone. Lots of people are complaining about this, but that’s the way that the carriers have always worked. It’s not something new, in fact, its a sign that AT&T has a little more pull on Apple that we thought. So I’ll be waiting at least until December. The problem is that if I wait till December, I’m only 6 months away from the next iPhone product launch (if they keep to the current schedule), and as TechCrunch points out, if Apple lets its exclusive contract with AT&T expire in 2010, then you’d actually have carrier choice. That would be a good thing, and since getting onto Verizon’s huge network can only help iPhone sales, I’d bet that the iPhone is on Verizon in 2010. That’s not an impossible thing. Verizon made its first appearance ever at JavaOne this year, a sign that things are starting to change over there. I guess I’m going to wait and see how AT&T treats me between now and then. But they should be painfully aware that people are buying the iPhone, not the carrier.